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Should You Have a Writing Career or Writing Hobby from Janalyn Voigt

Should You Have a Writing Career or Writing Hobby?

Writing Questions Answered: Should You Have a Writing Career or Writing Hobby?

This is a tough question every writer must answer, sometimes more than once in  lifetime.

Having a Writing Career

In the face of today’s publishing climate, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and discouraged, especially in the beginning of a writing career, and give up your dream.

Unless your name is Dan Brown, J.K. Rowling, or Suzanne Collins, writing as a career is not that secure a venture. While there are no guarantees of success as a writer, you can help your chances. It usually takes an investment of time and money in things like education, conference fees, a website, and more, before a writer begins to earn anything, much less a living. Given this, you will probably want to supplement your income, at least at first. If you can do this by finding a job that allows you to use your writing abilities, all the better.

Educate yourself. You can learn the craft of writing formally through an MFA program.  Informal ways to master writing are through websites like Live Write Breathe and by reading books on writing and also from writers accomplished in the genre(s) you want to pursue. Attending writing conferences, colonies, and workshops can also help.

Build a platform. Michael Hyatt named by Forbes magazine as one of the “Top 10 Online Marketing Experts To Follow In 2014”, offers his best advice on building a platform in  his book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy WorldMy series, “How to Build a Social Media Platform,” is available at Wordserve Water Cooler, an award-winning  website for writers.

Join a Critique Group. Learning from other writers can be profitable, depending on the skill level of the parties involved. Not all critique groups are created equal, so choose wisely.  I offer advice from my own critique experiences in Writing Critiques Versus Criticism.

Network Online and in Person. It’s better to do well at one social site where your potential readers are than to spread yourself too thin and accomplish little. Remember that social sites are a tool for your use, rather than the reverse. Don’t forget to network in person as well as online. Your readers may attend conventions or belong to groups you might want to join. Attending meetings of a local writing group is a good way to connect with other writers for mutual support. Agents, editors, and other writers all attend conferences,

Build a Business Plan. The best avice I’ve seen on this is was  “The 7-Step Business Plan for Writers,” a guest post written by Angela Ackerman, author of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression for Jane Friedman, co-founder and publisher of Scratch, a magazine about writing and money, and is the former publisher of Writer’s Digest

Having a Writing Hobby

If you don’t want to make the sacrifices and investments to build a writing career but just want to write for fun, then treating writing as a hobby can be right for you. It’s also possible to start out with writing as a hobby while you focus on improving as a writer, and then turn what was a hobby into a business.

Whether to treat writing as a career or a hobby is an individual decision no one can make for you. I suggest setting aside some time for soul-searching, introspection, and prayer to help you determine the answer.

Do you have an opinion on this or a perspective to share?

Have a writing question you’d like answered? Ask your question, and if I use it in a post, I’ll credit you and provide a link to your website. 

Should You Have a Writing Career or Writing Hobby via @JanalynVoigt | Live Write Breathe

Written by Janalyn Voigt

Janalyn Voigt

© Janalyn Voigt
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I’m Janalyn Voigt, an author, speaker, and former social media mentor. DawnSinger and Wayfarer, the first two books in my epic fantasy series, Tales of Faeraven, released with Pelican Book Group and will be followed by at least two more installments. I’m also working on a romantic suspense novel set in an Irish castle, but then historical fiction has a grip on me too. Being unabashedly multi-genre makes me into what some might term a reluctant rebel, but I prefer to think of myself as a storyteller.

8 thoughts on “Should You Have a Writing Career or Writing Hobby?”

  1. I had a publisher for my first novel but pulled it because I saw problems in it that I couldn’t really fix with out rewriting the whole thing (too many times). To say the least, the publisher was baffled. Now working on my third novel, I am the only person that I have to satisfy but I am also my harshest critic. I don’t think I do it for fun but as an intellectual exercise; it’s just that I don’t need any outside approval anymore. Do I NEED to write (like so many say), no; is it a passion, definitely.

    Regardless, nice post and site. It’s always good for people to go into writing with open eyes.

    1. It takes a true artist with a strong mind to put the quality of a manuscript above its publication, as you did. Well done. Awkward as that may have been, the veracity of your name as an author was at stake.

      I suspect those who state they need to write are voicing a passion so deep it feels like a need or else frustration because they aren’t writing enough.

      Thanks for the compliment and the comment.

  2. Hi, Glynda.

    You are a multi-faceted artist like me. In a culture where I have purchased an oil painting that cost less than its frame, that means we make less if we fall back on our artistic endeavors. However, becoming a frame artisan might just yield enough money to support our artistic endeavors. :o)

    1. Hi, Ruth. I’m not familiar with your website host. I don’t recommend using third-party website hosting, by the way. My site is self-hosted WordPress, which allows me to use Akismet, a highly effective spam filter. I’ll address how to set up a self-hosted WordPress site in a post soon.

  3. Unless a writer has someone (such as a spouse) who makes enough to subsidize the writer’s time and outlay of cash for education, conferences, and so on as well as providing a living, then holding a paying job and writing on the side isn’t optional. If income from writing isn’t sufficient to provide basic necessities (food, shelter, clothing), the extra investments are a moot point. I think even the IRS considers it a hobby-level career if it can’t solely sustain itself, provide a living, and cover taxes.
    It’s just economic reality, especially in these tough times.

    1. Hi, Glynda. It’s true that few people make a living as a writer, but some do, I believe at great cost of time. A good way of making a living while writing is to sell other products that call upon your writing abilities or enhance your platform in addition to books.

      1. **chuckling**
        “…great cost of time.” Never a truer word, Janalyn!
        I actually make more money with artwork, covers & illustrations plus accompanying crafts. Still not enough to regularly buy groceries, but it helps.
        I taught classes at a couple of conferences, but it didn’t match what I lost in taking off work. Scarcely paid for the gas to get there & back. Had to quit doing that!
        The rare opportunities for doing readings in this area are always non-paying, and the last one I read at didn’t allow promotional material or sale items.
        Otherwise, there’s maybe one or two companies that use technical writers (for machining and electronics manuals) but you have to have a Masters degree to even apply to them.
        The challenges continue. 🙂

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